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Is The Home Depot, Inc.’s (NYSE:HD) 58% ROCE Any Good?

Simply Wall St

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Today we'll look at The Home Depot, Inc. (NYSE:HD) and reflect on its potential as an investment. Specifically, we're going to calculate its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), in the hopes of getting some insight into the business.

First, we'll go over how we calculate ROCE. Second, we'll look at its ROCE compared to similar companies. And finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities are impacting its ROCE.

Return On Capital Employed (ROCE): What is it?

ROCE is a measure of a company's yearly pre-tax profit (its return), relative to the capital employed in the business. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. Ultimately, it is a useful but imperfect metric. Author Edwin Whiting says to be careful when comparing the ROCE of different businesses, since 'No two businesses are exactly alike.'

So, How Do We Calculate ROCE?

Analysts use this formula to calculate return on capital employed:

Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)

Or for Home Depot:

0.58 = US$16b ÷ (US$44b - US$17b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to February 2019.)

So, Home Depot has an ROCE of 58%.

Check out our latest analysis for Home Depot

Does Home Depot Have A Good ROCE?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. Home Depot's ROCE appears to be substantially greater than the 13% average in the Specialty Retail industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Putting aside its position relative to its industry for now, in absolute terms, Home Depot's ROCE is currently very good.

Our data shows that Home Depot currently has an ROCE of 58%, compared to its ROCE of 40% 3 years ago. This makes us think the business might be improving.

NYSE:HD Past Revenue and Net Income, May 9th 2019

When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and not necessarily predictive. ROCE can be misleading for companies in cyclical industries, with returns looking impressive during the boom times, but very weak during the busts. ROCE is, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Home Depot.

Home Depot's Current Liabilities And Their Impact On Its ROCE

Current liabilities are short term bills and invoices that need to be paid in 12 months or less. Due to the way ROCE is calculated, a high level of current liabilities makes a company look as though it has less capital employed, and thus can (sometimes unfairly) boost the ROCE. To counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

Home Depot has total liabilities of US$17b and total assets of US$44b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 38% of its total assets. Home Depot's ROCE is boosted somewhat by its middling amount of current liabilities.

The Bottom Line On Home Depot's ROCE

Despite this, it reports a high ROCE, and may be worth investigating further. Home Depot shapes up well under this analysis, but it is far from the only business delivering excellent numbers . You might also want to check this free collection of companies delivering excellent earnings growth.

If you are like me, then you will not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.